Meet the Accelerators of Mobile Dentistry
Announcing the recipients of the TeleDent Mobile Dentistry Accelerator Awards.
Helping Mobile Dentistry Programs Relaunch Stronger Than Ever
The dentists and hygienists contributing to mobile care efforts make life-changing differences. They bring oral health improvement to their communities by reaching settings outside of traditional practice locations such as schools, long-term care facilities, elder care homes and more. They meet and serve some of the most vulnerable patient populations. MouthWatch celebrates the resilience and perseverance of dental professionals who deliver mobile dentistry across the country. We saw how COVID-19 had impacted mobile dentistry programs ability to operate. We designed the TeleDent Mobile Accelerator Award to help mobile dental programs relaunch—stronger than ever.
The five incredible mobile dentistry initiatives we detail below across the US are the recipients of a TeleDent Mobile Accelerator Award. Their teams will have enhanced teledentistry and intraoral imaging solutions to help them bring positive, sometimes life-changing, oral health care to people in need.
Learn more about them and the work they are accomplishing. Watch clips from video interviews with the Accelerators with Jamie Collins, RDH, MouthWatch Education Manager, who oversaw the awards program.
“A step up, one step at at time…”
Mobile Accelerator: Appalachian Miles for Smiles
The under and uninsured residents of rural Upper East Tennessee and Southwest Virginia have a team at Appalachian Miles for Smiles that brings medical, dental and vision services to them. With three fully outfitted tractor trailers, AMS teams travel to remote and rural areas bringing care to those with limited or no access. The teams are composed of a few staff and many volunteers. In a span of five years they have provided over $3 million worth of services. Implementing teledentistry with TeleDent into their service model will allow a hygienist to see more patients when the volunteer dentist is not on site, aiding in the diagnosis and referral process.
Describing the impact teledentistry will have for their efforts, they write:
TeleDent will be a great resource to allow us to screen patients before meeting them in a clinic setting, and to build treatment plans in advance. It will also allow us to have a dental hygienist on site performing cleanings without being required to have a licensed dentist on site. This way the dentist can evaluate each patient from another location while the hygienist works independently in the mobile clinic. Teledentistry will also be used to make referrals of those who need advanced care. The greatest impact will be a dramatic expansion of our dental hygiene clinics for our Appalachian homeless and underserved patients.
Dr. Smiddy, Medical Director for the organization accepted the award on behalf of AMFS. In the interview below, hear Dr. Smiddy describe the kinds of differences they make for the people they treat. “Many of our patients come to us at the worst point in their life.…We’re laser-focused on doing something real and important for every patient.”
“I was meant to do this. I was meant to provide care…”
Mobile Accelerator: Paula Nguyen, RDH – Everlasting Smiles 4UAfter a close friend struggled to get mobile healthcare services while bedbound, Paula Nguyen, RDH, created her mobile care program to serve the homebound and bedbound population in Western Washington state. In the clip below, she describes discovering her life-calling with a few words from a patient… “I was meant to be there to provide care.” Ms. Nguyen works at a traditional clinical practice during the week and spends her weekends traveling up to three hours each way to see patients. In collaboration with a supervising dentist and denturist, Nguyen’s program is dedicated to ensuring necessary care is delivered. She described her work like this:
I am a mobile dental hygienist that will travel to the homes of individuals who are unable to come in to the dental office. I provide dental cleanings along with an application of fluoride varnish to help reduce sensitivity and to lower the risk of tooth decay. I also educate and train caregivers with oral hygiene instructions so they can help with the patients who are unable to do it by themselves. With my dental hygiene training and years of clinical experience I am able to recognize any suspicious lesions in the mouth. The dentists I collaborate with and I work closely together to devise a treatment plan that is suitable for the patient. Then a separate appointment is scheduled for our team to come and provide treatment as needed.The TeleDent Mobile Accelerator Award will enable her program to have live video interactions with her collaborating dental professionals and patient’s families to close loops on care more effectively. Learn more about how she started her journey …
“Teledentistry is going to continue to grow…”
Mobile Accelerator: In Motion Dentists, Dr. Wade Banner
Some mobile programs rely on volunteer dental professionals as part of their teams. Dr. Wade Banner’s In Motion Dentists drew our attention because it teaches dental and hygiene students how to serve special needs and other disabled patients. “Most of our patients are disabled in some way. Alzheimer’s, dementia, autism, down syndrome, cerebral palsy, or other type of disability that makes it more challenging for them to be seen in a regular dental office. Our goal with working with the pre-dental students…is to help expose them to working with this population.”
Another unique aspect of his company is that it focuses on bringing care to patients at home. Dr. Banner was inspired 7 years ago to start In Motion Dentists. Now at 14 team members, including dentists and RDHAP’s, they provide house calls to the elderly and special needs residents in Cali-fornia, driving over 38,000 miles each year.
Speaking about the community they serve and why home visits are a good model, Dr. Banner wrote:
A large number of our patients are those that cannot get to a traditional dental office due to physical limitations or even dental anxieties. Sometimes arranging transportation to and from appointments can deter patients from being seen and upkeeping with their recommended dental care. An hour appointment can take up a whole morning when patients have to schedule and wait for arranged transportation. Being that we operate on a mobile basis eliminates that barrier to great oral care. We are fully equipped to set up and do treatment in a setting where a patient is comfortable. Familiar surroundings typically helps to ease dental anxieties. A large number of our patients have special needs or behaviors. Many times dentists that treat this population will only treat them up until a certain age leaving them without a dental home once they become an adult. Leaving them untreated or on a long waiting list at a surgery center for sleep sedation can be especially difficult in cases of dental emergencies.
In Motion Dentists applied for a TeleDent Mobile Accelerator Award because one of the biggest challenges they have faced is meeting the growing demand for at-home care. They will be adding teledentistry workflows with TeleDent to their mobile program to help their team accomplish more by making it easier for patients to reach out to them and more effectively pre-screen patient needs.
Hear Dr. Banner discuss how they structure their mobile outreach andwhy teledentistry makes a difference …
“Pediatric dentistry is a place where we setup the future.”
Mobile Accelerator: Dr. David Stewart
Dr. David Stewart in collaboration with Staci Stout, RDH, a hygienist experienced in teledentistry, have created a program in Utah aimed at early intervention for young children.
They write about themselves that:
We are a team dedicated to helping increase access to dental care for those people that for whatever reason are unable to receive dental services. We believe that early intervention along with clear and individual specific health education can help to decrease the amount of dental disease that an individual will experience. Our goal is to prevent dental decay before it occurs through early intervention. Because access to care in a typical dental office setting is difficult for many of our high caries risk patients, we are utilizing teledentistry to bring diagnostic and preventive services to our patients where they are at. Through collaborative dental agreements between dental hygienists and dentists we can provide services to our patients that they otherwise are not receiving.
Through the collaborative dental agreement they are able to utilize teledentistry to bring care to local Head Start agencies to young patients who otherwise may not have access.
The goal is create a sustainable model connecting families and dental services that can be utilized nationwide to encourage early intervention and create good habits to last a lifetime. They say, “TeleDent is key to the success of our program. Without a way to collect information through a cloud based platform and digital imaging, and then being able to communicate this information between providers, families, and the Head Start program, it would not be possible to provide the intended services in a way that will be most successful.”
Learn more about their vision in the interview with Jamie below …
“We need to be as concerned with the patient not in our chair as the patient in our chair.”
Mobile Accelerator: Minnesota Community CareThe largest Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) in the state, Minnesota Community Care provides care with a large group of employees and 4th year dental students from University of Minnesota. Their mobile program acts as a “satellite clinic” to provide care to patients who have transportation difficulties. Describing their program, they write:
Our current mobile program acts as a “satellite clinic” to our main Dental site. Patients that have a hard time finding transportation to our main site are able to be seen at our mobile site. As we are already a very busy clinic, we are able to provide more appointment times by having patients see our Advanced Dental Therapists (ADTs) first. ADTs are similar to Nurse Practitioners in that they can provide a wide range of services, but not the same services as doctors or dentists. Our ADTs take x-rays, measure bone levels, and evaluate patients’ teeth for any cavities or issues and send this information back to our dentists at the main clinic site. The dentists then review this information virtually and create a treatment plan. The dentists also determine if the patients can complete all their treatment with the ADTs at the mobile site or if they have more complex needs that need to be scheduled at the main clinic with a DDS. This increases efficiency in scheduling and decreases the amount of times a patient needs to travel back and forth from the satellite/mobile clinic to the main site.Utilizing residents and Advanced Dental Therapists, they are able to provide a wide range of services, including for the homeless population. After being closed for months due to Covid, Minnesota Community Care is working through a backlog of need—and discovering the dental needs of patients are tremendous as a result of the pandemic. TeleDent will allow them to bring on more Advanced Dental Therapists to collaborate with supervising dentists to expand the program. Hear Dr. Angela Hastings, Clinical Rotation Manager for MCC, discuss how they’ve used asynchronous and synchronous teledentistry in a satellite setting and her response to the question, “What advice would you give other programs looking to implement teledentistry?”
TeleDent provides a full suite of dental telehealth capabilities. Contact us to discuss enabling your oral health program, mobile dentistry initiative, or more with TeleDent.